In a year of tragedy and recovery, amid mud flows and devastating fires, one event stands above all others for its social impact.
The Nov. 7 shootings at the Borderline Bar and Grill mark the second time in five years that a mass killing has taken place in the sheltered, affluent and largely safe communities of the Central Coast. It came as much out of the blue as the 2014 Isla Vista massacre and Borderline, too, is likely to have an extended aftermath, with many impacts for Thousand Oaks and beyond. The loss, to friendly fire, of Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department will sting for a long time.
One thing about Borderline that is unique is the collective action by a number of nonprofits to provide a way to get assistance to the victims.
The Ventura County Community Foundation, with support from the city of Thousand Oaks, the California Community Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Amgen Foundation, Sherwood Cares and others has established a core charity called the Conejo Valley Victims Fund.
The fund has already raised and distributed $310,000 in cash and additional funds in gift cards to the victims.
Now the Victims Fund is asking victims and their families to step forward and submit applications for additional funds here. The deadline for applications is Feb. 18.
VCCF has partnered with the mental health support group Give An Hour to support victims as they go through the application process; clinics for victims will be held on Jan. 14, 15 and 19 and public forums are being held as well.
Following practices used for Sept. 11 and other tragedies, the Victims Fund will apportion payments based on “severity of the injury of the victims arising from the disaster.”
The process is not simple. It means drafting protocols for distribution, creating an oversight committee and incorporating feedback from the public.
In the end, the task of determining amounts to be awarded and overseeing payments will fall to the oversight committee and fund administrator, with final approval in the hands of the VCCF board.
Meanwhile, the process of gathering resources to make awards to the victims and their families is also ongoing and donations can be made here.
We must stress that this is not a situation where the ownership of the Borderline Bar and Grill or any related entity has insurance or deep enough pockets to aid the victims in a meaningful way. We expect there will be many in the entertainment industry and the community who will want to step up but, in the end, every donation will make a difference.
TRAGEDIES MADE US STRONGER
If there is one positive takeaway from the tragedies of the past year, it is that we are emerging with strength and stronger institutions.
In the Thomas fire and debris flow events, the United Ways of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties stepped up to a larger role as did the regional Red Cross organization.
Community foundations in both counties played significant roles, with VCCF playing a lead role in the Borderline tragedy and fire events.
At press time, preparations for a Jan. 9 memorial walk in Montecito were well under way aided by a number of organizations.
After a year of disasters and rescues, we hope that 2019 will be a year of recovery.